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The VICE Sports Viewer's Guide To The 2016 NCAA Tournament

Big games, shooting stars and silly sideline coaching faces highlight our region-by-region cheat sheet to enjoying this year's edition of March Madness.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Face it: you're not winning your (perfectly legal, for recreational purposes only) NCAA Tournament office pool. Year in and year out, the madness is too unpredictable; the brackets, too flammable. Duke's a good bet to win it all, unless they lose to, like, Winthrop or something.

As such, why worry about which schools are winning and losing? The tournament is a carnival of storylines and shooting stars, buzzer-beaters and Silly Sideline Coaching Faces. Treat it as such. Some people just want to watch the brackets burn. Herein, the VICE Sports guide to enjoying the 2016 NCAA Tournament:


Read More: By The Numbers, The Best Upsets To Pick For Your NCAA Tournament Bracket


Player You Should See: Jameel Warney spent three years at Stony Brook suffering through one crushing loss after another. The 6-foot-8 forward took matters into his own hands at this year's America East Championship game, putting up 43 points to lead Stony Brook to its first-ever tournament bid. And he's apparently a fan of largely forgotten British R&B singers. Catch him on Thursday night against Kentucky, because it might be your only shot.

Jameel Warney (in red) can play. Photo by Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Game You Should See: The second-round matchups in this bracket are the kinds of potential headliners that lead the selection committee to nonchalantly whistle at the moon and pretend it would never set things up for the sheer sake of ratings: Xavier-Wisconsin, West Virginia-Notre Dame, and Kentucky-Indiana could all pull in a considerable number of eyeballs this weekend.

Hey, It's That Guy: USC's Andy Enfield is back in the tournament for the first time since leading Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet Sixteen back in 2013. If the Trojans get past Providence in the first round, they've got the kinds of athletes who could wind up pushing North Carolina to its limits.

The Underdog You Should Pull For Regardless of Your Bracket: Other than Stony Brook, which could really wreak havoc on John Calipari's fragile ego, there is No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin, and No. 16-seed Florida Gulf Coast, which is back in the tournament under former Kansas assistant Joe Dooley.


The Non Top-Two Seed Most Likely To Succeed: No. 4 seed West Virginia, with its swarming defense and potent offensive rebounding and endlessly intimidating casual Fridays coach, might be the best team in the Big 12. And in case you're just tuning in now, the Big 12 was the best conference in the country this season.

Coach Most Likely To Produce The Best Wire Service Photo: If it isn't the aforementioned Bob Huggins, it's Indiana coach-cum-VICE Sports spirit animal Tom Crean.

TFW you're coaching major Division I college basketball, but really just want an ice cream cone. Photo by Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


Player You Should See: Seton Hall's 6-foot-4 guard Isaiah Whitehead is a potential first-round pick who helped the Pirates win the Big East tournament title for the first time since 1993, and who came out of the same Coney Island high school that gave us Stephon Marbury, Lance Stephenson, Sebastian Telfair, and, of course, Neil Diamond.

Game You Should See: Iona—which beat Monmouth for the MAAC tournament title, and let's pour one out for the Monmouth bench while we're here—is the kind of up-tempo gung-ho No. 13 seed that could do some damage in the early rounds. Iowa State is the kind of deeply talented No. 4 seed that could either implode or make a serious push toward the Final Four. We'll find out what's what relatively early on Thursday.

Hey, It's That Guy: Tubby Smith, now at Texas Tech, has led five different college teams to the NCAA tournament. Let's hope it doesn't end like his motorcycle ride did.


The Underdog You Should Pull For Regardless of Your Bracket: No. 12 seed Little Rock, which is looking to defeat Purdue and stun the nation again 30 years after it did it the first time around.

The Non Top-Two Seeds Most Likely To Succeed: This is the region with the No. 2 seed from hell in Michigan State. Iowa State might be the best wild gamble here, but No. 5 seed Purdue is always capable of making a run. And Seton Hall, the No. 6 seed, is the kind of dangerous young don't-give-a-shit team that could also shatter this bracket into pieces.

Coach Most Likely To Produce The Best Wire Service Photo: Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, who has a bit of a young Randy Wittman thing going on.

TFW your hands say no, but your tie says yes I will yes. Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


Players You Should See: Wichita State has to get past its play-in game against Vanderbilt, but if they do, they've got two excellent seniors, Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, who only seem as if they've been around since the Reagan administration. At the very least, they deserve one last send-off.

Game You Should See: Presuming Connecticut beats Colorado in the first round, and presuming top-seeded Kansas does not somehow gag on Austin Peay (it's happened to decent teams before), the Jayhawks could face a challenging second-round matchup against a Huskies team that keeps piling on to its reputation for absurdist postseason runs.

It happens every March. Photo by Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, It's That Guy: Miami's personable coach Jim Larranaga, now 66 years old, is the same guy who led George Mason to the Final Four with such panache 10 years ago. A Final Four run with the Hurricanes would not be as revolutionary, though it would certainly solidify Larranaga's reputation as one of the great postseason coaches of his era.


The Underdog You Should Pull For Regardless of Your Bracket: It's got to be Hawaii, which won the Big West with a 33-year-old head coach facing looming NCAA sanctions that pre-date his tenure.

The Non Top-Two Seeds Most Likely To Succeed: Other than Wichita, the no-brainer here is Cal, a loaded team with a defensive-minded coach and two potential lottery picks on its roster, though the Bears drew that difficult first-round matchup with Hawaii. If Iowa can gather itself together and find its early-season form, the Hawkeyes could be a nightmare of a No. 7 seed for Villanova to have deal with in the second round.

Coach Most Likely To Produce The Best Wire Service Photo: Arizona's Sean Miller, who spends an inordinate amount of time making faces like this. And that's when the Wildcats are winning.

TFW your downed X-Wing is almost out of the Dagobah swamp. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports


Players You Should See: It's not easy to admit, but for all his stereotypical Laettner-ness, the Blue Devils' Grayson Allen is also one hell of player. At the very least, he'll be fun as hell to root against. If you want someone with an equally regal name and less baggage, go with Green Bay guard Carrington Love, near the top of the nation in steals and who is probably already a character on The Bold and The Beautiful.

Games You Should See: This region feels particularly wide-open on the top half, given that Oregon is the No. 1 seed with the most questions facing it. A Yale-UNC Wilmington second-round matchup is not entirely out of the question; and if Holy Cross, the No. 9 seed in its own conference tournament, winds up beating Southern in a play-in game and then beats Oregon, it will forever exorcise the ghost of Georgetown-Princeton.


Hey, It's That Guy: St. Joseph's Phil Martelli, who led the Hawks to the Elite Eight back in '04 with that Jameer Nelson/Delonte West backcourt, returns to the tournament for only the second time in the past eight years.

The Underdog You Should Pull For Regardless of Your Bracket: It always feels little weird to call an Ivy League team an underdog in everything, but hell, Yale hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1962, and their coach, James Jones, has been there since 1999, so it's not like he's a job-hopper seeking out a higher profile. Also, Justin Sears, the Ivy League player of the year, is a legitimate talent, and Baylor is a vulnerable No. 5 seed.

The one and only place anyone from Yale is an underdog in anything. Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Non Top-Two Seeds Most Likely To Succeed: No. 3 seed Texas A&M is another of those potent Big 12 teams that could make a push, and a potential second-round matchup against former Big 12 foe Texas is particularly enticing. And Duke is Duke, which means the Blue Devils could lose in the first round or win the whole damned thing again.

Coach Most Likely To Produce The Best Wire Service Photo: Coach K. There is no other option.

Derp. Photo by Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports